Farmers who host weddings in their backyard cannot refuse ceremonies where two people of the same sex are trying to get married, a New York court has ruled.
The court’s decision affirmed the state’s Division of Human Rights (DHR) ruling against Robert and Cynthia Gifford, owners of Liberty Ridge Farms, after they declined to host a “wedding” for a same-sex couple. The Giffords said they would host the reception for a lesbian couple, but the ceremony itself would have to be hosted elsewhere because of their religious beliefs about marriage.
DHR found that the couple violated New York’s “places of public accommodation” anti-discrimination law. If the court’s decision stands, the Giffords must pay $10,000 in state fines and an additional $3,000 in damages to the lesbian couple, Jennie McCarthy and Melissa Erwin, for “mental pain and suffering.”
Additionally, the Giffords – who say they have hosted a birthday party for a lesbian couple’s adopted child, and employed people with same-sex attractions – will have to provide sensitivity training to their staff and prominently display a poster highlighting state anti-discrimination laws.
The suit goes back to a 2012 phone call that Cynthia answered. Erwin and McCarthy wanted to have their wedding on site, something Cynthia said couldn’t happen. (Read more from “New York Values? Farmers Can’t Refuse Homosexual Wedding in Backyard – Unless They Want to Be Fined” HERE)